Garden of Beauty, Cooper and LeeAnn Shelton

Courtesy photo

Although Cooper and LeeAnn Shelton started their gardening adventures in Sublette County only a year ago, they have sparked the curiosity of many travelers going to Jackson with the glowing green lights emanating from their large greenhouse near the Rim Station on Highway 191 in the dark of winter. A large group of Sage and Snow Garden Club members took a field trip to the greenhouse last week and honored the new gardeners with its prestigious Garden of Beauty Award. The 42- by 120-foot greenhouse may be the largest in Sublette County, and although it is fully automated with its computer-controlled lighting, heating, irrigating and fertilizing systems, it is a full-time job for Cooper and LeeAnn to plant, monitor and harvest the hundreds of plants growing indoors. Salad greens and herbs are grown hydroponically in rock wool fiber pods nested in pop-out rails with a circulating water/fertilizer solution.  But, many other plants are grown in pots with Pro Mix potting mixture and carefully controlled fertilizer and water applications. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cantaloupes, watermelons, Albion strawberries, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, summer and winter squash, ginger, turmeric, horseradish, wasabi and nasturtiums fill the giant space with their trailing tendrils carefully bound and trellised to make the best use of the indoor space. Bees, parasitic wasps, orius and lacewings are added to balance the insect population, and extra pollen is used to encourage their presence and activity. Cooper and LeeAnn are anxious to share their bountiful garden with others and welcome walk in customers on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. They also accept call-in orders at 919-340-3023. Although Cooper and LeeAnn don’t technically own the greenhouse, it is definitely a labor of love for them, and their willingness to share their expertise and food with others is a wonderful way of getting to know their new community.